National Geographic’s photography collection spans decades and a multitude of topics. A publication of these collections has landed on our shelves : National Geographic Image Collection.
This stunning selection of photographs has been chosen from over 11 million images in National Geographic’s Archives, and is showcased in four major sections, Exploration, Wildlife, People & Culture, and Science & Climate Change.
The Exploration section includes photographs from early ballooning expeditions from Svalbard (1897) to expeditions to Antarctica (1911) to Hiram Bingham finding Machu Picchu (1913) to Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s undersea expeditions (1960s) to NASA’s exploration of Mars (2008).
The Wildlife section highlights the significant improvements in photographic equipment and techniques, documented by the changes in wildlife photography. ‘Action’ photos were rare in the early years, due to heavy and cumbersome equipment. When portable cameras and fast color film arrived on the scene, so too did more dynamic images of animals in their natural environments.
The People & Culture section begins with black and white imagery of groups of people, including street scenes from Singapore (1911), Tibetan devil dancers (1926), and Hyando tribes people (1934), then the focus shifts to scenes of everyday life through the 1950s to the present day.
The Science & Climate Change section captures technology as it emerged, and witnesses environmental shifts over the last century. Images include Mabel & Alexander Bell (1903), Albert Einstein at the Yerkes Observatory (1921), the second atomic bomb text at Bikini Atoll (1946), stop motion capture of an eclipse (1963), Halley’s comet (1986), what a drop of sea water looks like (2007), and aerial shots of natural disasters, including hurricanes and forest fires.
Several other gems of this publication are :
- An interview with Maura Mulvihill (Image Collection Director) about how the selection of these images was undertaken, and what it is like to work with such an important archival image collection.
- Images from Maynard Owen Williams when he accompanied the Citroen-Haardt Expedition, 7000 miles from Beirut to Beijing over 1931/1932, including an image of the Great Buddha of Bamain (which has since been destroyed) carved into the cliff face in Afghanistan.
- Evocative black and white images from Paris entre deux guerres
- short biographical information about the National Geographic’s photographers included in this book
A book to be dipped into time and again, a book to be shared, a book to be treasured.
Afterwards, if you are feeling inspired to improve your own photography skills, then perhaps you should check out some local classes.